The Australian Christian Lobby is holding its annual conference at the Wesley Centre in Sydney. The venue is owned by the Uniting Church, one of the more liberal Australian churches, with some openly gay pastors, and a warm welcome in many parishes for G.A.Y.* people.
There has been considerable disquiet over some of the speakers the ACL has invited, especially Jeffrey J Ventrella, a senior attorney at the Alliance Defending Freedom, a very right wing American Christian organisation closely linked to the ACL and former PM Tony Abbott. The extremely wealthy ADF supplies lawyers to argue anti G.A.Y.* cases across the US and globally, with a strong involvement in the sharp anti-gay turn taken by many Eastern European and African countries.
Despite this record of bigotry being brought to their attention, the Uniting Church insists it will still honour the booking of their conference centre, characterising it as a purely business decision.
“The booking for the conference was taken in good business faith by the Wesley Centre and the conference booking will be honoured. The centre is a venue of choice for a wide range of conferences throughout the year.
“Wesley Mission is not hosting the event and does not endorse or dis-endorse the conference.”
You will recognise that this is a complex and sensitive matter and we are thankful for your understanding.
Should you have any further enquiries please forward them on to Graeme Cole of Wesley Mission 02 9263 5350.
Rowena Tagaloa | Personal Assistant to Associate Secretary
The Uniting Church in Australia, Synod of NSW and the ACT
Level 9, 222 Pitt Street, Sydney NSW 2000
t 02 8267 4323 | f 02 9261 4359
The Uniting Network, representing the more liberal wing of the Uniting Church, is dissatisfied with this response, and is working directly with the Minister at Wesley, and through the Synod of NSW/ACT to develop an ethical policy on the use of church premises. They also hope to organise some sort of protest, perhaps in the form of leaflets to be handed out at the conference.
The Network claim that other members of the Uniting Church not directly involved in the booking cannot prevent the conference, but deny that this makes the Church’s decision to honour that booking hypocritical. There is no doubt, however, that it is not a good look.
*G.A.Y. =Good As You (the acronym formerly known as LGBTIQQ2A+)